Millions of Christians mark Palm Sunday at home

Bishop David Walker with a paper cross(Photo: The Church of England)

In lieu of traditional processions and services at church, millions of Christians around the world are marking Palm Sunday at home under lockdown due to coronavirus.

The Church of England has been encouraging Christians to cut out their own paper or card 'palm' crosses and display them in their windows to mark the occasion, which commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the start of Holy Week and Easter.

Churches forced to close their doors because of the lockdown will instead be broadcasting their sermons online.

The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, was leading the Church of England's national virtual Palm Sunday service at 9am on the Church of England's Facebook page and Church of England website, with readings from the Archdeacon of Manchester, Karen Lund and prayers by Lucy Hargraves from St Peter's Church in Bolton.

In his sermon, Bishop Walker recalled the strength and mutual support shown by the city of Manchester in the wake of the terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in 2017.

He was reflecting on the importance of drawing strength from events that bring people together, like virtual church services and the #ClapForCarers campaign to thank NHS workers. 

"In this time of social, or more accurately physical, distancing, the ways in which we can come together matter even more," he said.

"It wasn't only our health workers who took strength from that recent evening when so many emerged from their front doors to offer a round of applause.

"Each might only have been able to see or hear at most a handful of others, but everyone knew that this was something huge - a mighty crowd."

Similarly, the Methodist Church has released a range of resources to help Christians mark Holy Week at home, including a downloadable poster to witness to neighbours and a number of activities for children. 

These include 'Holy Week in a Box', which suggests families make palm leaves from whatever materials are to hand and place these along with Scripture or a Jesus figurine in a box. 

Young Church members are also being encouraged to write a reflective journal over the course of Holy Week. 

Palm Sunday services are being livestreamed from a number of Methodist Churches, including Methodist Central Hall in London. 

The Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB) has also released resources for Holy Week.  Its President Elect, Yinka Oyekan, will be hosting a free online Easter conference starting on Palm Sunday, with guest speakers including Bethel Church's Bill Johnson, Evangelical Alliance CEO Gavin Calver and New Wine National Leader Paul Harcourt. 

For further reflection throughout the week, Launde Abbey in Leicestershire is offering a free online Holy Week retreat